Israeli army fire teargas at Palestinians as Jewish settlers march on village

A Palestinian man collects tear gas canisters fired by Israeli soldiers in the village of Barqa, Nablus (MEE)

Atef Daglas

Middle East Eye  /  December 23, 2021

Dozens of Palestinian residents of Burqa village injured as Israeli forces attempted to disperse attempts to block a settlers’ march.

Dozens of Palestinians have been wounded, including some suffering breathing problems, after Israeli forces used tear gas to suppress demonstrations in the village of Burqa, north-west of Nablus in the northern West Bank on Thursday.

Local sources told Middle East Eye that 15 protesters were wounded by rubber-coated steel bullets shot by the Israeli army, as soldiers chased demonstrators through the village. The soldiers also attacked journalists with tear gas, and threw tear gas canisters at the homes of civilians in the village, according to a MEE correspondent on the scene.

Thousands of settlers, including rabbis and high-ranking political and settler movement figures, marched on the Homesh settlement, north-west of Nablus, on Thursday in a show of support for the Homesh outpost and in commemoration of a settler killed by a Palestinian last Thursday at the entrance to the settlement.

The deceased was identified as Yehuda Dimentman, who lived in the nearby Shavei Shomron settlement. Dimentman, 25, studied at the yeshiva, or seminary, in Homesh. Two other settlers were wounded in the attack.

Scores of Palestinians were subsequently wounded by settlers who targeted villages around Nablus near the illegal outpost.

The illegal Homesh settler outpost was established without Israeli government permission, and its residents were evacuated in 2005. However, settlers visit the area and operate the Homesh yeshiva, which serves as a de facto outpost.

Some 7,000 settlers – according to organizers’ estimates – arrived in buses, disembarking a kilometre from Homesh, then walked towards it carrying Israeli flags and chanting, while the Israeli army closed the street to Palestinian residents since the morning.

The Israeli military also blocked the entrances to the village of Burqa from the western side by constructing large earth mounds using bulldozers, preventing the entry or departure of residents in order to secure the settlers’ route. They also took over the homes of several Palestinian families, using them as military posts to monitor the protesters.

When the settler activists first announced their plan to stage a huge march, Burqa residents gathered and called for confronting the settlers and the Israeli army. Calls for people to mobilize and join the protests were also announced through mosque loudspeakers. 

Dirar Abu Omar, a Burqa activist, told MEE that villagers had decided to resist the settlers “with all their might” and prevent them from establishing any new settlement outpost inside Homesh “at any cost”.  

“Even if it costs us our lives, we will not stand idly against the settlers’ attacks,” he said.

Abu Omar stated settlers’ attacks against the village and its people had been relentless since the settler was killed a week ago, with the attackers guarded by the Israeli army. The settlers have pelted stones at more than 140 houses, and burned an agricultural facility, he said.

Atef Daglas is a freelance journalist